Liverpool Philharmonic today announces its 2020 – 2021 season. Highlights include:

  • Vasily Petrenko curated ‘Signature Series’ celebrating his 15 years as Chief Conductor
  • Three new Artists in Residence – Baritone Roderick Williams, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason and Welsh harpist Catrin Finch with Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita
  • World premieres including works by Dani Howard, Athanasia Kontou, Julian Joseph,  Grace-Evangeline Mason andRobert Laidlow
  • A focus on major works by Mahler, Strauss, Stravinsky, Zemlinsky, and Piazzola

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s 180th season, and Vasily Petrenko’s final season as Chief Conductor, before assuming the role of Conductor Laureate, features a compelling programme across a wide variety of repertoire.

Vasily Petrenko’s  ‘Signature Series’ concerts feature works by Elgar, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich and others, that he and the Orchestra are well-known for from concerts, recordings and tours. The series culminates in the final concert of the season (10 July) featuring a new composition by Grace Evangeline-Mason and the return of pianist Simon Trpčeski.

We celebrate significant composer birthdays in 2021. Marking 100 years since tango composer, Piazzolla’s birth, we feature the World Premiere of the orchestration of his Midsummer Night’s Dream Suite for Orchestra in a concert which also includes pianistPablo Ziegler who collaborated with Piazzolla during the last decade of his life (6 February).

Vasily Petrenko champions the music of Austrian composer Alexander von Zemlinsky 150 years since his birth in 1871 with performances of The Burial of Spring (Frühlingsbegräbnis) (8 July) and Four Orchestral Pieces (12 November).

50 years after his death, we celebrate the genius of Stravinsky with performances of Firebird (8/11 April), his Violin Concerto (1 May) and Rite of Spring (8 July) and other works.

Two concerts mark 40 years to the day since John Lennon’s death (8/9 December), with a revival of the John Lennon Songbook, telling the story of his life through his music.

Also included are performances of Mahler’s 5th, 6th and 9th Symphonies (5 November / 3 December/ 11 March / 13 March) and Mahler’s Symphony No 8 performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall (18 October).

Must See Artists and Rising Stars

Visiting soloists include Tchaikovsky-competition prize winner, pianist Mao Fujita (26 September), ever-popular bass-baritoneSir Bryn Terfel (20 March), violinist Tasmin Little in her farewell concert appearance with the Orchestra (31 October), pianist Stephen Hough (29 October), Katia and Marielle Labèque, pianos (26 November), Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cello(17 January), Pablo Ziegler piano (6 February), Truls Mørk, cello (11 March), Vilde Frang, violin (1 May), Jean-Efflam Bavouzetpiano (6/9 May), Baiba Skride, violin (13/14 May), Paul Lewis, piano (23 May), Nobuyuki Tsujii piano (29 May) and Simon Trpčeski piano (10 July).

Liverpool Philharmonic welcomes new conductors to the podium, including Gemma New (1 July), Eva Ollikainen (6 May),Sarah Hicks (19 November) and Jeanette Sorrell (1 April) and returning conductors including Domingo Hindoyan (31 October / 1 May), and Nicolaj Szeps-Znaider (11 Feb), Joshua Weilerstein (1 Oct0ber) and Principal Guest ConductorAndrew Manze (8/11 October, 17 January, and 24 June).

New Music

Continuing its lead as one of the UK’s most prolific commissioners and performers of new music, Liverpool Philharmonic presentsseveral world premieres including works by Christopher Brookes Prize Winner Athanasia Kontou (22 October), Royal Philharmonic Society Prize Winner Robert Laidlow (22 October), Julian Joseph (26 October) and Dani Howard (8 April). UK premieres include works by Nico Muhly (26 November), Katherine Balch (1 July) and Bernd Richard Deutsch (8 July). 

Artists in Residence

The 2020/21 season sees three new artists in residence. Baritone Roderick Williams who will perform in recital (12 October) and in Bach’s St John’s Passion (1 April). Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason takes over from her brother Sheku as Young Artist in Residence (recital on 4 November and with the Orchestra on 1 July). The Orchestra has a rich history of collaboration with artists from a range of musical genres, and this season, we embark on a two-year residency with award-winning duo, Welshharpist Catrin Finch and kora player Seckou Keita starting on 24 April with a performance in St Georges Hall Concert Room.

Chamber Music

Liverpool Philharmonic’s chamber series at St. George’s Hall Concert Room features performances by some of the world’s finest chamber ensembles and recitalists including the Borodin Quartet (28 November) mezzo-soprano Nathalie Stutzmann (8 May), Red Priest (19 September), and pianists Nobuyuki Tsujii (24 May at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall) and Víkungur Ólafsson (26 June).  

Ensemble 10/10, Liverpool Philharmonic’s contemporary music group will perform two concerts (22 October / 4 February) as part of this series including new works by Robert LaidlowAthanasia Kontou and Timothy Jackson.

Our Lunchtime and Close-Up concert series, featuring musicians and ensembles from the Orchestra as well as artists includingClaire Martin (28 September), The Wondering Fiddlers (15 March) and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Chamber Choir (19 April) takes place in the intimate setting of the Music Room.

Special Events

Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko will take part in an ‘In Conversation’ event (12 May) with Dr Darren Henley OBE. 

Audiences can delve deeper into the music they love at a range of Music and Wine evenings (10 November / 7 December / 13 January). Each of these evenings features a conductor or scholar giving insight into recordings of their favourite music. These musical extracts are then paired with wines and cheeses chosen to complement each piece.

Other insight events include Classical Intros and Post-Concert Question Time talks providing artists and scholar’s insightsinto the music on the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall stage.

New for this season, we will present Discover:  Beethoven String Quartets (21 November / 6 February / 13 March) with Gethyn Jones – host, performer and lecturer. Each event will feature a 45 minute lecture / demonstration followed by a performance of a Beethoven String Quartet by the Ensemble of St Luke’s.

Our very popular Liverpool Philharmonic Experience Tours (various dates) give a wonderful insight into life backstage and the heritage of our glorious Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, under Chorusmaster Ian Tracey has another busy and challenging season. Highlights include the Spirit of Christmas Concerts, Handel’s MessiahVivaldi’s Gloria, Zemlinsky’s The Burial of Spring,Bach’s St John Passion and Mahler’s Symphony Nos8 and 9 

Relaxed and Dementia-Friendly Concerts

There is something for everyone Liverpool Philharmonic Hall with regular Family, Under 5’s, Relaxed and Dementia-Friendly concerts. The Relaxed Concert, Pirate Party! (27 March) is fun and accessible for the whole family, combining brilliant music and a safe and enjoyable environment. We offer support for audiences with a range of additional needs, including communications difficulties, physical and learning disabilities.  

The Dementia-Friendly concerts take place in the Music Room (20 October / 18 June) and last for one hour.

Our youngest fans can enjoy performances including Room on the Broom and Stick Man: Films with Live Orchestras (1 November), The Snowman meets Santa (13/19 December), and the classic Peter and the Wolf with a new work, Gaspard’sFoxtrot, composed by Jonathan Dove with live illustration by James Mayhew and presented by Zeb Soanes (27 June).

Glyndebourne and Opera North

The popular Glyndebourne film screenings continue with broadcasts of Strauss’ The Barber of Seville (5 September) and Der Rosenkavalier (10 January). And Opera North returns with a concert staging of Wagner’s Parsifal (27 May), with Richard Farnes conducting.

Vasily Petrenko, Chief Conductor of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra commented

Despite the issues facing our world right now, I believe that music and its power to heal and bring people together are more important than ever. And that’s why we are pleased to be announcing our plans for 2020-21, although we know that the challenges we are currently facing will continue for some time.  I’m confident in the bright future of the Orchestra, it will continue to develop as one of this country’s greatest ensembles. It has been my immense joy to be a small part of its 180 year history and I will look forward to returning in my new role, from 2021, as Conductor Laureate

Michael Eakin, Chief Executive, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic commented

“This season signals the end of a chapter for the Orchestra as we say a fond farewell to Vasily Petrenko as Chief Conductor.  As we celebrate his achievement, we look forward to also welcome a range of diverse and talented musicians to our stages.